(Almost) Dupe Alert! Laura Mercier vs. Prestige Cosmetics Highlighting Powders

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So I’m always looking for a bargain. I love high-end products, but I’m not one to pay extra money just for fun (or just for packaging) if the product isn’t superior to something I could get at the drugstore. Ipso facto, I’m always on the lookout for dupes.

On a recent trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond (which has become my go-to spot for stocking up on any drugstore items), I was perusing the selection from Prestige Cosmetics.

If you’re not familiar with Prestige…neither am I, at least not until recently. It’s not sold at any drugstore chains in my area. The only place I have seen it is at a couple of beauty supply stores and BB&B, though you can also order from their website. I was initially turned off by the name (instead of actually being a prestige brand of cosmetics, they’ve just named themselves “Prestige” brand–the irony), but eventually I got curious. I’ve tried a few products from them in the past year and, on the whole, I’ve been pretty pleased.

So I couldn’t help but be intrigued when I spied a baked mineral powder that reminded me of one of my favorite high-end highlights: Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance Baked Powder in “Highlight.”

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right)

 

The Prestige Cosmetics Sun Baked Mineral Bronzing Powder actually comes in three shades, two of which are deeper and look more like bronzing powders, but I was pulled in by “Pure Shimmer”, the lightest shade of the bunch. Now granted, these two powders do not actually look that similar in the pan. The Prestige powder has a lot of marbling, while the Laura Mercier powder is almost uniform in color. This marbling makes it hard to tell what the Prestige version would look like applied; it seems like it might be darker, more bronze, or possible more golden, than the LM version. But there was something about the sheen, the way the Prestige version reflected the light, that made me want to swatch them side-by-side.

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right) – sunlight

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right) – shade

I am not going to say these are exact dupes. The Laura Mercier powder is more pigmented. It’s texture is smoother (though for a drugstore product, the Prestige powder is impressively silky). The shades may be very slightly off — I think the Laura Mercier version is a hair more beige. But when applied and blended out on the skin, they really look identical. 

The Prestige Cosmetics’ Sunbaked Mineral Bronzing Powders retail for $11.95, while the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powders will cost you $38 apiece, a.k.a. a little over three times the price. The Prestige powder also gives you very slightly more product: 8 grams versus the 7.5 grams you get with the Laura Mercier product.

It might not be a 100% dupe, but for those on a budget Prestige Cosmetics’ “Pure Shimmer” is an excellent alternative to that gorgeous LM highlight.

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Quick Look: Laura Mercier Fairy Dust Eye Shimmers

IMG_3798I popped into my local Sephora recently for a little swatch fest; tis the season to make a big long list of items to buy for the Friends and Family / VIB sales, and to decide what to start dropping hints to my family about. (In fact, I’ll have a haul from the Sephora F&F sale pretty soon…)

These little Laura Mercier Fairy Dust Eye Shimmers caught me by surprise. I haven’t heard anything about them online. If the store display is to be believed, they are limited edition and exclusive to Sephora for the holiday season.

As the name suggests these are basically loose, shimmery eyeshadows–there are five shades, some more sparkly, some with a more metallic iridescent finish. I was drawn in, and just had to swatch.

L to R: Crushed Copper, Crushed Onyx, Crushed Platinum, Crushed Lapis, Crushed Amethyst

L to R: Crushed Copper, Crushed Onyx, Crushed Platinum, Crushed Lapis, Crushed Amethyst

The shades didn’t exactly swatch well. It took several swipes to build up the pigmentation. I think these will need a primer and/or mixing medium to help them apply smoothly, evenly, and with full color. But the shades were very pretty. Crushed Amethyst seemed a little blah to me, but all the others were quite lovely.

My favorites were Crushed Platinum (a white gold) and Crushed Lapis (an iridescent aqua with green/gold shift). While Crushed Platinum seemed similar enough to MAC’s Nylon not to tempt me to shell out $28, I couldn’t resist Crushed Lapis, and it went on my F&F sale shopping list.

The reviews on Sephora’s site are mixed, but there’s only a couple of them, so stay tuned if you want to know more; once I’ve had a chance to use Crushed Lapis, I’ll let you know if it was worth the hefty price tag.

 

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Review: Forever21 Love and Beauty Lash Extension Duo

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There’s been a lot of hype this year about various lash-extension systems, especially of course the Too Faced Better than False Lashes. Having heard mixed reviews, I was reluctant to drop any serious change to try a set.

IMG_3369So when I saw a discount version at Forever21, I decided I’d give it a try. The price was low enough that even if it didn’t work I wouldn’t feel too sad.

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And the Forever21 version looked very similar to the Too Faced system, with a black mascara, and a second tube filled with false lash fibers. You put fuzzy hairs on your lashes and glue them down with mascara. It doesn’t seem like rocket science. Forever21 should be able to pull it off, right?

 

 

IMG_3370Wrong. Not only did this not give me a false lash effect, it didn’t even give me the effect I would expect out of a mediocre mascara.

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I think the biggest problem was the “lash extension primer with fibers.” I pulled out the wand, and not only did I not see any fibers–I didn’t even see any primer. The wand felt dry, and though the tube were empty. After multiple coats it barely looked as though anything had transferred to my lashes. There was just the slightest tinge of white there to allude to the product that might have been.

Maybe I got a bad tube–an old one that Forever21 left on their shelves to the point where it had dried out before it even opened. But this wasn’t the only problem.

IMG_3374The mascara itself, though it seemed the right consistency, just did very little for my lashes. It was a slightly wetter formula, which I had trouble building up on my lashes without sticking them together (even letting it dry several minutes between coats). I’m betting this was largely due to the brush, whose bristles are quite spaced out, so that they weren’t able to grab onto the lashes to coat them well, or to comb through and separate them.

My naked eye.

My naked eye.

With Forever21 Lash Extension Duo

With Forever21 Lash Extension Duo

I got a little bit of length, but my lashes stuck together, looked spidery, and wanted to poke out in all directions.

IMG_3526Granted, I paid less for the duo than I would a typical drugstore mascara, but considering that the primer seemed so pointless and the mascara so unflattering that I decided to chuck them after only a week of use, I’m not sure I got my money’s worth. From now on, I’ll head to Forever21 if I need a statement necklace or sweatshirt with a giant glittery kitten on the front, but I’ll get my makeup from those who know.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

Tarte Colored Clay Liquid FoundationIt’s just characteristic of my life that when I’m finally ready to review a product, it seems to no longer be available.

Tarte’s Colored Clay Liquid Foundation launched as part of a QVC Today’s Special Value earlier this year. Normally, this would be a preview to a full launch, but I’m not sure whether this product was ever available for retail sale. At any rate, it doesn’t seem to be up on QVC’s site now, nor on Tarte’s. But I’m posting my review anyway, in case Tarte decides to roll the product out again for any of their holiday launches.

 

IMG_3547The most distinctive thing about the foundation was the packaging. It’s a jar with mesh fabric stretched over a central opening–very similar to the packaging for Tarte’s Airbrush loose powder foundation, but a bizarre choice for a liquid foundation. When I first bought the foundation, the product was constantly overflowing, making it difficult to avoid picking up too much. It worked much better after I had a used up a bit of the foundation, but this turned out to be a temporary reprieve. As I used more, it got increasingly difficult to pick up any at all, since the brush could no longer reach the product once it dipped below the halfway mark. As you can see in the picture above, I eventually tore the mesh trying to get to the product. Even after removing the mesh altogether, it was difficult to get at the last quarter of the product due to the narrow hole.

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That being said, there were so good things about this product. It give light to medium coverage, and left a lovely finish on the skin, blending in seamlessly and leaving just a touch of glow, without looking greasy.

Bare faced

Bare faced

With Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

With Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s such a lovely effect, in fact, that I would almost be prepared to put up with the rubbish packaging, but unfortunately there was one other drawback. The foundation simply didn’t last. For 3 or 4 hours it would be alright, but by the end of the workday, it would be visually disintegrating on my face. As lovely as it looks when I put it on, it doesn’t do me much good if it’s going to look bad by lunchtime.

IMG_3555Anyone else try this product? Do tell!

 

 

 

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Quick Look: Make Up For Ever 30th Anniversary Palette

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IMG_3721IMG_3722So here’s the thing. I ordered the MUFE 30th Anniversary Palette when it came out…what, like 2 or 3 weeks ago now? More?

And there it sits. And sits. And sits. And I just can’t make up my mind to actually use it.

 

Since it was limited edition, and pricey as all hell, I’d feel bad returning it after using it–unless there was an issue with quality. So I need to decide if I actually want to keep it before I dip in. And I just. can’t.

 

 

$250 for one palette. A large palette, yes. But $250? So I’m, like, paralyzed. Can’t make up my mind to keep it, can’t make up my mind to return it.

Any advice?

 

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Quick Look: Swatches of Benefit’s new “Big Easy” Complexion Perfector

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I just did a double-take when I saw the date on my last post–has it really been that long? I can only plead one-full-time-and-two-part-time-jobs-so-give-me-a-break-wouldja. I’ll try to do better in the future. 

I decided to jump on the new Hourglass blush palette (more on that later), and when the precious cargo arrived it was accompanied by a sample card of Benefit’s new Big Easy Complexion Perfector.

Given that the samples included were so minuscule as to be of no use for anything other than swatching and shade comparison, I decided to relegate the product to my forearm and share my swatches with the world.

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Apparently, after a year or more of every brand calling almost any skin-colored product, regardless of actual ingredients or efficacy, a BB cream, we’ve finally decided that the term is played out. Benefit is touting this product as “bigger than BB”, and has designated it a “multi-balancing complexion perfector.” It’s supposed to have a lightweight, liquid-to-powder finish, and to control oil. The product promises light-to-medium coverage and is available in 6 shades.

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Benefit Big Easy deep range – sunlight

Benefit Big Easy deep range - indoor lighting

Benefit Big Easy deep range – indoor lighting

Unfortunately for many, that shade range plays to the middle of the pack. Above, you can see a heavy swatch and blended swatch of the three darkest shades: 04 medium, o5 beige, and 06 deep beige (left to right).  The darkest shade is really a deep tan, and would be far too light for many women of color. As you can see from the hideous blue vein peeking from behind 04 medium, the light-to-medium coverage claim seems fairly accurate to me.

Benefit Big Easy fair range - sunlight

Benefit Big Easy fair range – sunlight

Benefit Big Easy fair range - indoor lighting

Benefit Big Easy fair range – indoor lighting

The fair range also seems to leave out the very fair ladies. You can see above the swatches of 01 fair, 02 light, and 03 light-medium (left to right), though I accidentally blended in the heavy swatch of 01 fair. Unfortunately, now you can barely see it there on the far left since it matches my skin quite well. I’m somewhere around NC 20, maybe slightly paler, so again, there’ll be many on the fair end of the spectrum who won’t be able to find a match. You’ll also notice that every shade leans slightly warm–except for the ones that lean very warm. So those with pinker undertones will likely not be able to make this work, and those who are more neutral probably wouldn’t mesh with any of the darker shades. I was surprised by this, though I can’t say I’m unhappy. I’m sure many will be annoyed by limited undertone choices, but being a warm-toned lady myself I’ve always been frustrated by how many companies refuse to produce a single warm-toned option in their lighter shades. I think it’s about time some brand made an option for us, given how many pink toned foundations, BB creams, and tinted moisturizers there are out there.

In fact, given the nice match I get from 01 fair, and the nice texture it seems like it might have judging by my lentil-sized sample, I might be tempted to try this product–I’m always on the lookout for a way to control oil. It retails for $38 for 1.18 oz., which isn’t bad for a brand in its range. I think this is going to go on my VIB sale shopping list.

How about you? Anyone tried it? Gonna try it? Share your thoughts.

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Now appearing in your local Target’s clearance bin: Sonia Kashuk “Make A Face” Brush Set

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Okay, so that title is actually a little misleading. I have no idea whether this will be in your local Target’s clearance bin. When it comes to clearance, it’s all about what the individual store didn’t sell the first time around, and how long it lasts once it goes on clearance. (In fact, on target.com this is still listed at full price, $24.99) But I found this in my local Target’s clearance bin, and I thought I’d share my thoughts in case the low price tag caught the eye of any of my readers–also, if you’re interested you can keep an eye out (I mean, assuming you’re not like me, trolling the clearance section on a regular basis).

Sonia kashuk make a face brush set

 

The Sonia Kashuk “Make a Face” Brush Set is a limited edition set of 4 face brushes. They are really beautiful, with gold detailing, a black and white rose photographic design on the handles, shiny black ferrules, and aqua bristles. The brushes are full-sized, but boast a compact design, with short, squat handles. The handles are flat at the end, so these brushes can stand up if you set them on a flat surface.  At $12.48 (local clearance price), they seemed like a serious deal, since not only were they gorgeous, but Sonia Kashuk brushes are usually reputed to be of good quality.

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First up is a rounded powder brush. The head of this is large, though not as large as my Real Techniques powder brush. It would work well for bronzer, and is big enough to use as  powder brush (though wouldn’t be my first choice.)

 

 

 

The next brush is described as a “duo fiber multipurpose brush to highlight cheekbones”, though frankly this description seems a bit bizarre. It’s not much smaller than the powder brush, and I think if I tried using this for highlighter I would end up looking like the proverbial disco ball. I’ve been using this brush for blush (though not very frequently), but even as a blush brush I find it a little large.

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This brush has a pinched ferrule, so that it’s a bit flattened. which does make it a little easier to control–though I generally prefer a round, fluffy blush brush.

I think the next brush is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a flat top brush, with a blunt cut, similar to Sigma’s ever-popular F80 Flat-Top Kabuki. Though the Sigma version is both denser and softer, this is a perfectly serviceable brush. I use it both for liquid foundation and for buffing on mineral foundation or powder.

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What I find odd is that this brush is described as a “synthetic flat top multipurpose blush brush to add color to the apples of cheeks.” I would never have imagined using a brush this shape for blush, and I have to admit I haven’t tried it. Who knows, maybe they’re onto something.

The final brush, though, is definitely the weirdest.

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This is described as a “flat top sculpting brush for effortless contouring”, and indeed I can’t imagine what you would use something this shape for if not contouring. But while I like the shape, the bristles are so short and so densely packed that the brush head ends up feeling very stiff–almost hard. You could easily pick up far too much product with this, and don’t expect to do any blending.

I will admit, though, I have found a use for this. I’ve been using it with a cream contour product I got from Tarte that’s a little on the drier side, so a fluffy brush won’t usually pick it up. But I do have to go back and blend with a different brush.

All in all, I think these brushes fare better when judged by aesthetic rather than practical standards. Though I illicitly fondled the bristles before I bought them and they seemed quite soft, when using the brushes on my face I found them to be far scratchier that my other brushes. While the the handles of the brushes feel well-made, the bristles feel cheap a poor quality. I think I’ll end up using these to adorn my makeup table rather than putting them into regular rotation.

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LOTD: LORAC Pro 2 x 2!

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Though I just posted a look with the LORAC Pro 2 yesterday, I just couldn’t help it. I had to post another. So far, I’m loving this palette.

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This time I started by blending “Nectar” just above the crease to serve as a transition color. Then I used “Cool Gray” in the crease, “Rosé” on the inner half of the eyelid, and “Mocha” on the outer half of the eyelid, and blended under the lower lash line. I darkened the outer corner with “Cocoa”, and brightened the inner corner with “Beige”.

 

I used “Buff” above the color and on the brow bone, to make sure everything was well blended. I smudged a little brown Sephora Collection Eyeliner at the base of the lashes, and tight lined with Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl eyeliner in Black.  My mascara of the day is Too Faced Better than Sex.

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I was really happy with how this look turned out. I wasn’t sure if the “Cocoa” shade was going to be dark enough to give real contrast, but it actually reads darker once applied. It definitely. Rosé was also darker than I expected, but it’s really pretty.

Expect more on the LORAC Pro 2 soon!

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LOTD: LORAC Pro 2!

It’s here!

I got my LORAC Pro 2 in the mail, and I’ll definitely be doing a review as soon as I’ve had a chance to test it out a bit.

Even though I was running late for work, I couldn’t resist doing a quick look with it.

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Over a coat of NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, I blended “Lt. Brown” into the crease, then patted   “Beige” all over the lid, but blended a little of “Rosé” on top. I also took “Beige” into the inner corner. I added a tiny bit of “Black” in the outer corner, and smudged over Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in “Zero” at the lash line.  I finished with a couple of coats of Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara.

In other news of my face, I used my Tarte Colored Clay Foundation, Milani Even-Tone Powder Foundation on top to set it (and for extra coverage), and TheBalm’s Frat Boy on my cheeks.

But by then, I had taken so much time ogling my new palette that I was almost late for work, and had to put on my lip color in the car!

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LOTD: Bridesmaid Style (and where the heck have I been??)

So00000000………………

It’s been a while.

I wish I had a better excuse, but honestly life just got the best of me. I left the country for a week and a half to go to my best friend’s wedding in France. With the stuff that piled up at work and at home, I’ve been playing catch-up ever since–still am. But I’m going to try to slowly get back into things. I have several reviews planned, some new book recommendations–and, I finally broke down and bought the LORAC PRO 2, so expect to see a post on that one soon.

For now, I thought I’d share my bridesmaid style with you all.

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The dress is the Heidi in silk chiffon in the shade “bright coral” from the J. Crew website. The J. Crew wedding collection is absurdly overpriced just because it says “wedding”, and I had to order this dress 4 different times before I got the sizing figured out. But it is really pretty, and it’s a dress I can see myself wearing again–it doesn’t scream “bridesmaid!”, so I could see wearing it out to lunch with a cardigan on top. But I would have to do something about that cleavage, because I do not normally walk around hanging out of my clothes like that. Seriously, J. Crew?

I wore it with  nude, patent leather strappy heeled sandals, which I had to take off at this point because they were killing me. My necklace is from Forever21. You probably can’t see my nails, but I’m wearing Julep’s “Clara”, which I reviewed previously.

With wedding photos weighing on my mind I spent quite a lot of time primping. I won’t go through every product here–just hit the high notes.

Because of the coral dress and gold accessories, I stuck with warm neutrals for my eye makeup. I used Makeup Geek’s “Sweet Dreams” pigment all over my lid, then pulled out my Urban Decay Naked Palette, blending “Buck” into the crease and softening the edges with “Naked”. Then I wanted a slightly warm toned highlight, so I switch to my Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette, using “Venus” as my inner-corner highlight, “Foxy” as my browbone highlight, and “Crave” to darken up the outer corner. My eyeliner is the mini of Benefit’s They’re Real! Push Up Liner that I got as a sample from Sephora (loving this, btw), and the mascara is Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes!, shellacked with Anastasia’s Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat just in case I got sappy, which I totally didn’t think would really happen but it did! And the stuff works, thank goodness. Brow’s are Anastasia’s Brow Wiz in “Ebony.”

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I used MAC Pro Longwear Concealer as my foundation since it blends out so nicely. I like to do this when I travel because the tiny pump bottles are like little baby foundation bottles just perfect for on the go, and since the product gives so much coverage, I don’t need much in the way of concealer on top. I used Tarte’s “Crave” from their holiday blush palette on my cheeks, and MAC’s “Ravishing” on my lips.

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So that’s all for now, but I’ll be catching up on some posts real soon, I promise!

 

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